The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deals sealed with big tech duo
• GE Capital and HSBC Electronic Data Processing Ltd agree on Calcutta
• Software firm LSI Logic to set up development centre and ICRA to kick off BPO business
• Wipro Spectramind to announce inauguration date shortly
• Satyam to start operations any day
• Pitching for investments to be pursued with more vigour

Calcutta is shining. A day after the Left Front pulled off a coup in the city in the electoral numbers game, information technology (IT) minister Manab Mukherjee crowed about how Bengal had outperformed other states in sealing deals with some of the biggest business process outsourcing (BPO) outfits in the business.

“GE Capital and HSBC Electronic Data Processing Ltd have confirmed they will set up their BPO units in Calcutta and have asked the government for land,” Mukherjee said on Friday.

All these developments, according to the minister, were firmed up over the past three weeks. With the election commission gag removed, Mukherjee announced how Pramod Bhasin, president and CEO of GE Capital, had called him late last month to confirm that the company has “finally” decided to set up shop in the city.

Over the past two years, GE Capital, which employs around 7,000 people across its five centres in the country, has been weighing its Calcutta options.

“Malcolm Wagget, chief operating officer of HSBC Electronic Data Processing Ltd, came to Calcutta and conveyed their decision to set up a base here,” added Mukherjee. Headquartered in Hyderabad, the wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC does both voice and non-voice transactions.

Representatives from both the big-ticket companies will be visiting the city “in the next two weeks” to work out the modalities and decide on the locations.

The IT department has already sought 200 acres in Rajarhat. “I wrote to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today, seeking more land in Rajarhat,” said Mukherjee.

Promising to step up the investment drive and spring a “second instalment of surprises”, Mukherjee unveiled a roster of roadshows that the government is planning to organise over the next two to three months.

The IT department is lining up meetings in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, starting June 8.

“With big players like Wipro and Satyam in Calcutta, the interest in the city has increased. But the biggest selling point for the state is the chief minister’s image and we will definitely try to use it,” said Mukherjee.

Without being drawn into the debate over the fall of Chandrababu Naidu, Mukherjee used the opportunity to drive home one point — that the Bengal government will never commit the “same mistakes” the Andhra Pradesh CEO-CM had made. If Calcutta is shining, Bengal will not remain in the dark, was the message from Mukherjee.

“We have introduced computer literacy in 1,000 schools and have recently signed a deal with IBM to roll it out in 2,500 more. We are bargaining with IBM to reduce the monthly fees from Rs 50 to Rs 30 and a complete fee waiver for students below poverty line,” said Mukherjee, on the controversial computer literacy programme.

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